This March, challenge each of your department members to improve their sleeping habits as part of National Sleep Awareness Week (March 7-13). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that adults should aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day. With overnight emergency calls and required “watch” hours, it is often hard for first responders to get the recommended amount of sleep.
Depriving yourself of sleep is not healthy. People who do not get adequate sleep increase their chances of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. In addition, sleep-deprived firefighters may not perform well and will not be as alert as well-rested firefighters. Tired firefighters can be a safety risk. Firefighters and EMTs should consider taking naps before shifts or going to bed earlier to get as much sleep as possible before the nightly calls come in.
To motivate your department members, try sending out weekly emails explaining the importance of rest and tips on improving sleep. Seek out ways to improve sleep as a department, such as asking night crews to go to bed by a certain time. If you see a fellow firefighter dragging from lack of sleep, point them to the bunkroom! Visit the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program web site to view more information on leading a heart-healthy lifestyle.
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